The Pentagon will allow military chaplains to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal, the Advocate Magazine’s Andrew Harmon is now reporting. The Pentagon also says “Defense Department property may be used for private functions, including religious and other ceremonies such as same-sex unions, as long as it’s not prohibited by state or local laws.” From the DoD memo, issued by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley:
A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law. Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs. Finally, a military chaplain’s participation does not constitute an endorsement of the ceremony by DoD.
In April, Chief of the Navy Chaplains Rear Admiral Mark Tidd issued a memorandum declaring that since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Navy has made a preliminary decision to allow gay couples to marry on Navy bases in states that allow same-sex marriages and permit chaplains to take part in the ceremonies. The ruling sparked outrage from conservatives and far-right organizations, which immediately claimed that the policy undermined the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and Tidd eventually announced that the Navy would be suspending its preliminary ruling until further notice “pending additional legal and policy review and interdepartmental coordination.”
The House Armed Services Committee added an amendment to the defense authorization bill introduced by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) prohibiting the practice.